Stop signs will, for now, stay in Lincoln Hills

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Stop signs have created quite a fervor in The News Messengers’ letters to the editor section.

The issue became public at a Jan. 22 Lincoln City Council meeting when a handful of Lincoln Hills neighbors complained that motorists use their two-block residential street as a shortcut to avoid excessive stop signage on Lincoln Hills thoroughfares such as Del Webb and Sun City boulevards.

Other residents countered, saying that drivers disregard traffic laws, including speeding and running stop signs.

The neighbors on Jan. 22 asked City Council to consider removing stop signs and said that up to seven stop signs on the main thoroughfares cause motorists to cut through adjoining neighborhoods.

Among the streets with side-tracked traffic named were Monument Boulevard, Mossy Ridge Lane and Wildomar Lane.

The city of Lincoln’s streets committee looked at the issue and suggested a meeting occur with the Lincoln Hills Homeowner’s Association to discuss “potential steps moving forward with the HOA involvement.”

But at the Feb. 28 homeowners’ association board meeting, according to a News Messenger story, board President Kenneth Silverman indicated that the association is limited in taking the lead as the city owns the streets and the homeowners’ association board will be involved, with other volunteers, if or when the city of Lincoln decides to do something about it (the traffic issue).”

So far, The News Messenger has received 10 letters about the Lincoln Hills signs. A slim majority says to keep the stop signs instead of removing them for safety reasons.

One letter wasn’t printed because the writer didn’t want her name used. But she wanted to tell me that drivers “are all in a hurry, even though most of us are retired.” She said the stop signs make drivers at least “slow down” somewhat.

In recent talks with Lincoln Hills residents, Lincoln Mayor Stan Nader didn’t find a majority in favor of either removing or keeping the signs.

“At last month’s coffee (with the mayor), the issue of stop signs in Lincoln Hills came up. It was noted that surveys of residents there are split 50/50 on whether the stop signs should stay or go,” Nader said. “It is a safety issue and, for now, the stop signs will stay. Without the stop signs, many of the streets will become raceways.”

“For the city to remove a stop sign,” Nader said, “they are required to do a traffic study, which costs $10,000 per intersection. The city just does not have the money at this time to spend on this matter. Our new police chief is aware of the problem and will be encouraging his staff to increase patrols in the problem areas.”

A few readers asked why a traffic study would cost $10,000 so The News Messenger asked Mark Miller, the city’s director of public services, for an answer.

“I’ve heard the $10K number mentioned about town as well and, though I have not seen that number in writing and the initial work predates me, I’ve heard that the previously proposed traffic study covered multiple intersections,” Miller said. “I believe the concept was to do a more system-wide and direct impact study of several intersections. Obviously, it would not be very helpful or cost-effective to study just one intersection in a complex system of intersections. As a matter of course, any traffic changes would require engineered drawings and professional engineering stamps for liability reasons, and the costs of liability insurance, overhead, etc. are included and passed on to clients in any consulting work.”

While the Lincoln Hills streets may have what some residents call an abundance of stop signs, at least parts of the downtown Lincoln area are slim on stop signs.

On I street, for instance, a few busy intersections have no signs. It sometimes feels like a free-for-all, especially when the school day is starting or ending.

How much does it cost to install a new stop sign?

“We don’t have a fixed price for actual costs and it depends on conditions. In terms of actually installing a stop sign, more is involved than just digging a hole and installing a post and sign,” Miller said. “Assuming the engineering study warrants a sign, underground utilities have to be located, an engineered site/intersection plan has to be drawn up, the proposal has to be detailed in a staff report to the streets committee and/or City Council, then staff has to present the findings.”

If a stop sign is approved, temporary warning signs must be installed for public safety notice, followed by permanents signs, thermoplastic STOP logos and stop bars, and warning signs.

“That process may sound long and expensive but public safety is our most important responsibility,” Miller said. “Intersections are the most frequent location for accidents and the last thing anyone wants to happen is for someone to be killed or injured in an accident that could be avoided with proper planning and analysis. Removing a stop sign at an intersection takes more work, with the additional requirement of grinding off existing pavement markings and providing longer warning notice on the change due to the likelihood of drivers not realizing that cross traffic no longer stopped.”

If the decision comes down to being safe or saving a few minutes of driving time, hopefully most drivers will side with safety.